Munchkin cat with chronic loose stool

by Donna
(Lancaster, PA)

Hello Dr. Neely. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I searched your site and could not find any question quite like mine.

I recently adopted a one and a half year old spayed female munchkin cat from a breeder. She had been to a home but returned to the breeder because they wanted a kitten instead, so I am her second home. I was told by the breeder that she has chronic loose stools. She said that if she eats a food with too much protein it gets worse and instructed that my kitty eat only Purina cat chow and nothing else - especially no canned food. The breeder said if she is on Purina, she should not have diarrhea.

However, my cat has had frequent (probably at least 5 a day) bowel movements from the day I got her and they are always quite loose. After doing some research on line, I discovered that canned cat food is actually supposed to be better for cats partly because of its water content and because canned food usually has less grain, vegetables and filler than the dry cat food. I understand that these extra ingredients should not be part of a cat's diet, and that the protein source should be from duck, venison, buffalo, or some other uncommon source to avoid the likelihood of allergies.

I am concerned about my cat's health - she is rather thin - and also about the possibility of dehydration, even though she drinks water. She is the sweetest, most gentle cat I have ever met and I love her very much. I want her to be healthy.

I will also mention that she has one eye that waters and produces a brownish, almost reddish discharge. The breeder told me this was due to a reaction to a medication or vaccination when she was a kitten. I did read about watering eye and Feline Herpes on your site, so maybe that is what it is. I just didn't know if it could be related to the diarrhea.

Can you please comment on this?? Thank you so much!!

Dear Donna,

Your breeder has misinformed you about the proper diet for your new cat. There is nothing particularly special about Purina dry cat food that your cat would need to be eating that and absolutely nothing else. And, as you have seen firsthand, this particular diet isn’t controlling your cat’s chronic loose stools.

In terms of

what is the best cat food diet to feed your new kitty, you are correct that canned cat food is now considered the healthier diet to feed cats because of the higher moisture content and lower carbohydrates. However, although more uncommon protein sources are right for some cats with food allergies, they are not right for all cats, and some may do fine with poultry and fish protein sources. For more information on the best way to feed cats, please visit the Cat Info website.

You can learn, in detail, about how to cook for your cat on the cat info website, as well. This is something you may want to try, at least for a limited period, to determine which protein sources agree with your cat the best. However, unless you are going to begin adding essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to your cat’s food, protein sources alone will not provide a well-balanced cat diet, so this should be done for a limited time as a trial only.

Has your cat had a good veterinary exam, and particularly a good, thorough fecal exam, checking for common parasites, giardia, and coccidia? If not, your cat should have a fecal done right away. Even if the fecal examination comes back negative, you may want to discuss treating your cat with a routine dewormer for common parasites, giardia, and coccidia. In my years of practice, I have treated many cats with chronic loose stools or diarrhea with deworming medications, even if their fecals came back negative, and the condition improved significantly.

If changes in your cat’s diet and the trial deworming do not appear to resolve your cat’s loose stools, you are certainly correct that dehydration can become a concern. However, there are other avenues to explore to control the diarrhea, including different prescription feline medications. It is best to get started trying to determine the cause of your cat’s diarrhea sooner rather than later, because unfortunately, these cases usually just get worse over time.

In terms of the eye discharge you are describing, it sounds like your cat may have a blocked tear duct, likely the result of damage from feline herpes virus. Blocked tear ducts are of no consequence to your cat’s health, aside from aesthetically. If you are concerned, though, asking your veterinarian to have a look at your cat’s eye when conducting her exam and fecal would be worth it for the peace of mind.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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